Maqam Ibnu Al Arobi


Ibn Arabî was born at 560 H or 1165 M has been one of the most influential authors in the second half of Islamic history. In the Arabic texts, Muhyî al-Dîn Muhammad Ibn al-`Arabî al-Hâtimî al-Tâ'î he is more commonly called Ibn al-`Arabî (with the definite article). He himself often signs his works in the form Abû `Abd Allâh Muhammad ibn al-`Arabî al-Tâ'î al-Hâtimî. He came to be called Muhyî al-Dîn, “The Revivifier of the Religion,” and al-Shaykh al-Akbar, “The Greatest Master.” He combined the various schools of Islamic thought—jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, Kalam, philosophy, and Sufism—into a vast synthesis inspired by the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet.Ibn `Arabî's inner and outer life has been recounted in detail by the unsurpassed study of Claude Addas, Quest for the Red Sulphur. In brief, his father `Alî was apparently employed by Muhammad ibn Sa`îd ibn Mardanîsh, the ruler of Murcia in Spain. In 567/1172 Murcia was conquered by the Almohad dynasty, and `Alî took his family to Seville, where again he seems to have been taken into government service. Ibn `Arabî himself would have been raised in the environs of the court, and recent research suggests that he underwent military training. He was employed as a secretary by the governor of Seville and married a girl named Maryam from an influential family. When he was thirty he left Spain for the first time, traveling to Tunis. Seven years later, in 597/1200, a vision instructed him to go to the East. In 599/1202 he performed the hajj and met, among others, Majd al-Dîn Ishâq, a scholar from Malatya whose as yet unborn son was to be Sadr al-Dîn al-Qûnawî (606-73/1210-74), Ibn `Arabî’s most influential disciple.Accompanying Majd al-Dîn on the way back to Malatya, Ibn `Arabî stayed for a time in Mosul, where he was invested with an initiatory cloak (khirqa) by Ibn al-Jâmi`, who himself had received it from the hands of al-Khidr. For some years Ibn `Arabî traveled from city to city in the regions of Turkey, Syria, and Egypt, visiting again the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In 608/1211-12 he was in Baghdad, perhaps accompanied by Majd al-Dîn, who had been sent there by Sultan Kay Kâ'ûs I (607-16/1210-19) of Konya on a mission to the caliphal court. Ibn `Arabî was on good terms with this sultan and wrote him a letter of practical advice. He was also a companion of the ruler of Aleppo, al-Malik al-Zâhir (582-615/1186-1218), a son of Saladin (Salâh al-Dîn al-Ayyûbî).In 620/1223 Ibn `Arabî settled down
permanently in Damascus, where a circle of disciples, including al-Qûnawî, served him until his death. According to some early sources, he had married Majd al-Dîn's widow, al-Qûnawî's mother. Among those who studied with him during this time was the Ayyubid ruler of Damascus, Muzaffar al-Dîn (d. 635/1238). In a document dated 632/1234, Ibn `Arabî granted him permission to teach his works, of which he lists 290; he also mentions seventy of his own masters in the sciences, noting that the list is incomplete. It is clear from this source that Ibn `Arabî had spent long years studying the religious sciences, including the seven recitations of the
Qur’an, Qur’anic commentary, jurisprudence, and especially Hadith.Ibn `Arabî's outward life demonstrates nothing exceptional for a Muslim man of learning, except perhaps the volume of his writings. His special place in Islamic history was determined more by his life's inward events and his encounters with spiritual men. In this respect, his youthful meeting with the great philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) is of symbolic importance, since it demonstrates the wide gulf
that Ibn `Arabî perceived between the formal knowledge of the “folk of rational consideration” (ahl al-nazar) and the visionary and spiritual knowledge possessed by the “folk of
unveiling” (ahl al-kashf). It is significant that Ibn `Arabî says he was a “beardless youth” when the meeting took place. Although certain authorities have inferred from an ambiguous passage in his Futûhât that he did not enter the Sufi path until he was twenty, the meeting with Ibn Rushd certainly took place before he had reached this age, and his account indicates that he had already been taken into the presence of God. Ibn Rushd, he tells us, “had wanted to meet me because. . . of what had reached him concerning the opening [fath] God had given me in retreat [khalwa].” Ibn `Arabî frequently discusses the term “opening,” which he defines as “the unveiling of the uncreated Lights” and describes as a primary goal of the Sufi path. Note also that the title of his magnum opus, al-Futûhât al-makkiyya, means literally “the Meccan Openings,” which is to say that it refers to visions of uncreated lights occasioned by the pilgrimage to Mecca. Ibn `Arabî goes on to describe his meeting with Ibn Rushd as follows: He said to me, “Yes.” I replied, “Yes,” and his joy in me increased. When I perceived why he had become happy, I said, “No.” He became constricted, his color changed, and he began to doubt himself. He asked, “How have you found the situation in unveiling and the divine effusion? Is it the same as is given to us by rational consideration?” I replied, “Yes and no. Between the yes and the no spirits fly from their
matter and heads from their bodies.” The idea put forth by certain Western scholars that Ibn `Arabî was initially guided by al-Khidr is unfounded. In fact, his earliest encounter with the “Men of the Unseen World” (rijâl al-ghayb) was with Jesus, as he states repeatedly, and his first teacher on the path to God, Abu'l-`Abbâs al-`Uryabî, was dominated by Christ's spiritual influence. Ibn `Arabî considered Jesus the “Seal of Universal Sanctity.” He himself, at least in certain passages, claimed to be the “Seal of the Particular, Muhammadan Sanctity,” so his early encounter with Jesus certainly suggests something about how he understood his own calling. In his comprehensive—but now dated—study of the 850 different works attributed to Ibn `Arabî, Osman Yahya estimated that 700 are authentic and over 400 extant. Even though many of these are only a few pages long, many more are full-sized books, and the Futûhât alone contains more words than most authors write in a lifetime. Among his best known works are the following: - Al-Futûhât al-makkiyya. Subjects treated in this vast compendium of the religious and spiritual sciences include the inner meanings of the every detail of the rites of purification, salât, hajj, and alms-giving as legislated by the different schools of the Shariah (the madhhabs); the stations and states that the travelers traverse on their journey to God and in God, the significance and nature of the hierarchical structure of the cosmos, the spiritual and ontological meaning of the letters of the Arabic alphabet, the sciences embraced by each of the ninety-nine names of God, the inner states of travelers on the path to God, and the significance of the differing messages of the various prophets.
- Fusûs al-hikam (“The Ringstones of Wisdom”). This book has always been held in the greatest esteem by Ibn `Arabî's followers, and well over one hundred commentaries have been written upon it. One may thus be inclined to accept Henry Corbin's view that it is “no doubt the best compendium of Ibn `Arabî's esoteric doctrine.” [2]
However, Ibn `Arabî’s foremost disciple al-Qûnawî is more circumspect when he writes in al-Fukûk, a short commentary on the text, that it is “one of the most precious shorter writings of our shaykh.” In it Ibn `Arabî discusses the divine wisdom revealed to each of twenty-seven prophets from Adam to Muhammad.
Basing himself largely on Qur’anic verses and hadiths, he shows how each of them disclosed in his person and prophetic career the wisdom implied by one of the divine attributes.
- Tarjumân al-ashwâq (“The Interpreter of Yearnings”). This short collection of love poetry, the first of his works to be translated into English, was inspired by Ibn `Arabî’s meeting with Nizâm, the beautiful and gifted daughter of a teacher from Isfahan, during his first pilgrimage to Mecca (a somewhat later parallel is found in Dante’s Beatrice). He also wrote a long commentary on the poems to prove to certain of the more narrow-minded ulama that they deal with spiritual truths and not profane love.
Among the many works wrongly attributed to Ibn `Arabî, Risâlat al-ahadiyya (“The Treatise on Unity”) has been translated into English.
Michel Chodkiewicz has shown that it is in fact by Awhad al-Dîn Balyânî (d. 686/1288), a Sufi from Shiraz.
In formulating his teachings, Ibn `Arabî made use of the vast range of Islamic learning available to him, beginning with the Qur’an and the Hadith. He borrowed extensively from the written and oral tradition of Sufism that had been developing for several hundred years. He made free use of the terminology of philosophers like the Ikhwân al-Safâ’ and Avicenna.
He was thoroughly versed in Kalam,especially Ash’arism. But all these schools of thought were so many building blocks that became parts of his own intellectual edifice. His repeated testimony and the very nature of his writings and influence show that his “unveilings” and “openings” gave new form to the material with which he worked.
Most of Ibn `Arabî's books and treatises remain unedited,unpublished, and/or unstudied. The Futûhât was first printed in the nineteenth century, and before his death, Osman Yahia published fourteen of a projected thirty-seven-volume critical edition (the last of these appeared in 1991). Scholars will need to devote years of effort before a thorough analysis of the contents of
the Futûhât can be carried out, and most of his other writings also remain to be studied with care. It is not surprising that many who have attempted to interpret his teachings have pointed out the tentative nature of their endeavors. Nonetheless,certain central themes, highlighted for example in the Fusûs, can be discerned throughout his books and treatises. We can be relatively sure of their primary importance because they were emphasized by his immediate disciples and followers. These same themes have been taken up and elaborated upon by generations of philosophers, Sufis, and theologians.
It is to some of these that we turn our attention here.
Before asking what Ibn `Arabî has to say about God, the universe, and human beings, it may be useful to explain some of the most important characteristics of his path to understanding. In his view, no methodology or standpoint allows for transcending its own limitations save that which recognizes the relative validity of every standpoint and which, at the same time, does not become bound and conditioned by a specific standpoint. He sometimes calls this perspective “the standpoint of no standpoint” or “the station of no station” (maqâm lâ maqâm). He also calls it tahqîq, “realization” or “verification.”
The word tahqîq is derived from the root h-q-q, from which we have two terms of extreme importance for the Islamic sciences —haqîqa and haqq.
Haqîqa is usually translated as “reality,” and a great deal could be said about what it means in Ibn `Arabî's writings and the Islamic sciences in general. The English translation suggests many of the directions in which a discussion of the word would take us. As soon as we pose questions like “What is reality?” or “What is the reality of a thing?”,we fall into the most difficult and subtle of philosophical and theological issues.
However, I want to focus more on the word haqq, which is a noun and an adjective that means truth and true,reality and real, rightness and right,appropriateness and appropriate. As a Qur’anic divine name, it means the Real, the Truth, the Right. From early times, it has been used as a virtual synonym for the name God (Allah). In one common usage, haqq is juxtaposed with khalq, “creation.”
Both haqq and khalq are realities (haqîqa), and taken together the two words designate everything that exists, everything that is real in any respect whatsoever, for all time and all eternity. However, these two realities are by no means equal. The status of al-haqq, the Real or God, is clear, because “There is no god but God,” which is to say that there is nothing truly real, true, right,proper, and appropriate save God alone. In contrast, the status of khalq is by no means clear. If God alone is haqq in a strict sense, where exactly do creation and created things stand? How do they fit into reality as a whole? If they are real,certainly their realness is not of the same order as that of God. And if they are unreal, how does the unreal relate to the Real? Moreover, a second term is also commonly juxtaposed with haqq. This is bâtil,which means unreal, wrong, null, void,absurd. The Qur’an contrasts these two words in a dozen verses, such as,“The haqq has come and the bâtil has vanished” (17:41).
The word haqq, then, is commonly paired with both khalq and bâtil, but the distinction between khalq and bâtil is vitally important. Bâtil is totally other than haqq. It can best be understood as the negation of haqq.
In contrast khalq, though not identical with haqq, is also not completely different from haqq,because creation is certainly not unreal, wrong, vain, and null. As the Qur’an puts it, “We have not created the heavens, the earth, and what is between the two as bâtil” (38:27).
The ambiguity of all of khalq derives from the fact that it hangs betweenhaqq and bâtil—between being and nothingness, real and unreal, right and wrong, proper and improper,appropriate and inappropriate. Sincewe cannot avoid asking ourselves what we are and who we are, the exact status of the created world becomes a primary issue discussed in philosophy and much of theology and Sufism.
Questions about the status of creation bring us to a second question: Is there anything we can do to improve our status? To answer this question,we need to know the divine purpose in giving us existence. Thus we have two basic questions: “What [mâ]?” and “Why [limâ]?” What are we, and why are we here? What is our actual situation, and what should we be doing to fulfill our purpose? Ibn `Arabî and many others call the process of asking these questions, answering them, and then putting the answers nto practice tahqîq, or “giving things their haqqs.” To give something its haqq is to “verify” and “realize” the thing, that is, to understand the thing as it actually is, and then to establish a relationship to it that is exactly what God, al-Haqq, wants from us. Thereby we fulfill our purpose in being here.
In most of Ibn `Arabî's technical terminology, the meanings that he gives to words are rooted in the Qur’an and the Hadith. For the meaning that he accords to tahqîq, one Qur’anic verse and one hadith play especially important roles. The Qur’anic verse is 20:50: “He has given each thing its creation, then guided.” Here we have the beginnings of an answer to the two questions.
“What are we?” Are we haqq or bâtil,real or unreal, appropriate or inappropriate? The basic answer is given by the first clause of the verse, “He has given each thing its creation,” which is to say that God,the Absolute Haqq, has determined and bestowed the khalq. In respect of the fact that al-Haqq has given khalq, He takes away the bâtil, which is the negation of haqq. Hence, khalq is an expression of haqq.
It follows that if we consider God's mmand to His creatures—what Ibn `Arabî and others call His
“engendering command” (al-amr al-takwînî), whereby He says to a thing “Be!” (kun) and it comes to be—then we must conclude that each creature is haqq, which is to say that it real, right, true, and appropriate.
Inasmuch as we are able to see the Real's activity and signs (âyât) in the creature, we have found the haqq expressed in the khalq.
As for the second clause of verse 20:50, “Then guided,” it addresses the question of purpose. First God creates the creatures, then He provides them with guidance, and it is His guidance that gives them a proper goal to pursue in life. In the human case, the Qur’an epitomizes guidance in the verse, “I created jinn and mankind only to worship Me” (51:56).
The Qur’an is God’s explanation of “the straight path” whereby worship should be performed. “Worship” is the means whereby human beings achieve their purpose in creation. The divine guidance that sets down the proper way of achieving human purpose is often called God's “prescriptive” or “emburdening command” (al-amr al-taklîfî). It is the divine commandments, prohibitions, and instructions that pave the way to right knowledge, right speech, and right activity.
The exact nature of God's guidance and its relation with haqq is suggested by the hadith to which I referred earlier as playing a basic role in Ibn `Arabî's understanding of tahqîq.
This hadith has several versions,presumably because the Prophet repeated it in slightly different
forms on a variety of occasions. That it should be an everyday guiding principle for people concerned with the truth and the right should be obvious. The text says, in one typical version, “Your soul has a haqq against you, your Lord has a haqq against you, your guest has a haqq against you, and your spouse has a haqq against you; so give to each that has a haqq its haqq.”
From the standpoint of the first question, “What are we?,” this hadith of the haqqs explains that we and everything that we encounter have haqqs, which is to say that everything without exception has a proper situation, a correct mode of being, an appropriate manner of displaying the Real to us. It does so because “God has given each thing its creation,”and thereby He has established not only its khalq, but also its haqq. As the Qur’an says in several verses, God created everything with the haqq and through the haqq. “We created the heavens and the earth and what is between them only through the haqq”(15:85). In this respect the khalq or “creation” of each thing is identical with its haqq, because the Absolute Haqq has given the thing its khalq from Itself.
In answer to the second question,“What should we be?,” the hadith tells us, “Give to each that has a haqq its haqq.” We should be a khalq that realizes haqq. That is, our every word, deed, thought, and intention should be right, true, appropriate,worthy, and real in keeping with our haqqs and the haqqs of others. Our own selves, God, people, and things have haqqs “against” (`alâ) us, so we will be asked about these haqqs and we will have to “respond.” Each haqq represents our “responsibility.”
Given that only human beings were taught all the names by God, we alone are able to recognize and realize the haqq of everything in existence. God and all of khalq make demands on us.
When we encounter something, we must recognize its haqq and act accordingly. It is this haqq of
things that we must address, because this haqq is identical with the khalq that God has established, and God is Himself the Haqq, the Right, the True,the Proper, the Appropriate. The Reality of God, which makes Itself known through all that exists, is not simply “that which truly is,” but also that which is truly right and worthy.
It makes moral and ethical demands on human beings by the fact that “He has given each thing its creation.”
Given that all things manifest the Absolute Haqq and that each creature possesses a relative haqq; and given that we will be held responsible for the haqqs that pertain specifically to us, we need a scale (mîzân) by which to measure the extent of our own responsibility and to learn how to deal with the haqqs. We cannot possibly know the haqqs of things by our own lights or by our own rational investigation of the world and the soul, because the relative haqq of creation is determined and defined by the Absolute Haqq, and the Absolute Haqq is unknowable except in the measure in which It chooses to reveal Itself. Hence the scale can only come through the prophets, who are precisely the means by which the Haqq has chosen to reveal Its guidance.
The Qur’an is the means that clarifies the haqqs for Muslims: “With the haqq We have sent [the Qur’an] down, and with the haqq it has come down”(17:105).
One can conclude that for Ibn `Arabî,God’s most important commandment—a commandment whereby the question, “What should we do?” is answered most directly—is expressed in the hadith of the haqqs: “Give to each that has a haqq its haqq.” This giving things their haqqs is the very definition of the human task in the cosmos, and it is the meaning of tahqîq or realization”—”to recognize every haqq and to act appropriately.”
Once one understands that the Absolute Haqq is God and that the haqqs of all things depend utterly upon God, one has to employ the divine scale to recognize the realities and the haqqs of both God and creation. The first thing in the domain of khalq whose reality and haqq must be understood is the human self or soul (nafs). Notice that the hadith begins, “Your soul has a haqq against you, your Lord has a haqq against you,” then it mentions guest, spouse, etc. The primacy of soul is not accidental. Without knowing oneself, one cannot know one's Lord. God and everything in the universe have haqqs against us, but in order to give everything that has a haqq its haqq, we first have to know who we are. Otherwise, we will not be able to discern which of the haqqs pertain to us. This helps explain why Ibn `Arabî frequently quotes the saying “He who has known himself has known his Lord,” or “Those who have recognized themselves have recognized their Lord.” In other words, he who has recognized himself as God’s creature has come to recognize the Absolute Haqq and understood the demands that God makes upon his soul.
On the level of the Shariah,discerning the haqqs is relatively straightforward, because it entails only the recognition that the revealed law is incumbent upon us. But the Shariah does not address the whole realm of reality, and Muslims have always acknowledged that only a small percentage of the Qur’an’s verses refers to its rulings and prescriptions. What about the rest of human existence? When God said, “I am placing in the earth a vicegerent”(2:30), did He mean that the only thing He asks from His chosen vicegerents is to obey a few commands and prohibitions? Is there is no need to know Him, or the universe, or themselves? When He said, “God emburdens a soul only to its capacity”(2:286), did He mean that one is free to define one's own capacity by one's own understanding of biology,psychology, history, and politicized religion? How can one decide what this “emburdening” entails unless one knows both the command of God and the capacity of one's own soul? If Ibn `Arabî and many other Muslim sages are correct—and if we simply grasp the implications of everlasting life—then the human self is “an ocean without shore,” an endless unfolding. Surely,dealing with the haqq of such a reality demands more than what is given in your philosophies.
To put this discussion in a slightly different way, the issue of who we are pertains not only to anthropology,psychology, and ethics, but also to ontology and cosmology. To give ourselves our haqq, we must know who it is of whom we are the khalq. Here Ibn `Arabî begins to show his real
gifts as a muhaqqiq (a master of tahqîq), because he plumbs the depths of the subtle mysteries of Absolute Reality and Its relations with the human soul. It is from these contexts that his followers derived teachings that came to be called wahdat al-wujûd (“the oneness of being” or “the unity of existence”), and it is here that he speaks in great detail about “the perfect human being” (al-insân al-kâmil), who is the fully realized form (sûra) of God.
Although Ibn `Arabî has become famous as the founder of wahdat al-wujûd, he does not himself employ the expression, though he often approximates it. In attributing wahdat al-wujûd to him, we need to keep in mind what exactly the expression might mean in the context in which we are using it. In the later literature,different authors understand this single expression in a variety of ways, some of them mutually contradictory. The heated debates that have occurred over this idea—debates that still go on today—are rooted in different understandings of the term’s meaning.[3] Few if any of these understandings have reflected accurately the subtle manner in which Ibn `Arabî himself deals with the ambiguity of the status of khalq,between haqq and bâtil.
In sum, for Ibn `Arabî tahqîq is a term that designates the station of those who have achieved, by divine grace and solicitude (`inâya), the full possibilities of human knowledge and existence. By following the Sunnah of the Prophet on the three levels of activity, knowledge, and inner transformation, they have achieved the station to which he referred when he said, “Our Lord, show us things as they are!” Hence Ibn `Arabî calls tahqîq “the Muhammadan station,” because it is the full realization of the model provided the Prophet. The muhaqqiqs have recognized the haqqs in exactly the manner in which God has established them and the Prophet enacted them.
Through giving each thing that has a haqq its haqq, the muhaqqiqs also give God, who has given each thing its creation, His haqq, and thus realize,to the extent humanly possible, the fullness of God-given knowledge and God-given reality.
Since God bestows on the muhaqqiqs the knowledge of how to give things their haqqs, they alone are able to recognize the haqq of everything in existence. Hence they do not take sides, except inasmuch as the haqq of certain things in certain contexts demands that they take sides. Ibn `Arabî writes that when he takes the standpoint of the Shariah, he judges on its basis, and when he takes the standpoint of reason (`aql), he discerns and distinguishes by its scale. Both reason and the Shariah accept some things and reject others,because each has a specific, limited,and constraining station. However,when he takes the standpoint of the divine unveiling, through which the muhaqqiq is given to see things as they are, he recognizes the legitimacy and haqq of everything that exists,even if both reason and the Shariah lead him to act against it, given that the haqq of a thing may be not only to exist, but also to be acted against.
This is precisely tahqîq,“realization,” or “the standpoint of no standpoint,” that is, of no specific standpoint, given that every defined standpoint will reject the legitimacy of other standpoints. Only God stands beyond every standpoint,giving to each thing its creation, and then guiding it in terms of that specific creation. The role of the muhaqqiqs is to be God's vicegerents by recognizing the rightful place of everything He has created and then examining His guidance in each thing,so that they may also give each thing that has a haqq its haqq. When the Shariah commands an act, they perform it, because that is the haqq. When reason sees a distinction to be drawn between truth and falsehood, they draw it, because that is the haqq. But all the while, they see with a divine light that everything is as it must be, because khalq is none other than a relative haqq given by the Absolute Haqq. They understand that all will be ell in the end, because God’s mercy is infinite and all-encompassing.

Pass Away of Ibnu Arobi.

Ibnu Arobi died in 638 H or 1240 M. Ya Robb..., pouring and overflowing Ridho for him and award the us with the secret which Thou keep at him, Amen.

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